RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A candidate in a high-profile Virginia legislative contest had sex with her husband in live videos posted to a pornographic website and asked viewers to pay her money in return for certain sexual acts.
Screenshots of Susanna Gibson on the website were shared with The Associated Press. The campaign for Gibson, a Democrat running for a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates in a district just outside Richmond, issued a statement Monday denouncing the sharing of the videos as a violation of the law and her privacy. Gibson called the revelation of the videos “the worst kind of gutter politics.”
“It will not intimidate me and it will not silence me,” she said in the statement. “My political opponents and their Republican allies have proven that they are willing to commit a sexual crime to attack me and my family because there is no line they will not cross to silence women when they are speak up.”
The Washington Post first reported it videos On Monday.
The revelation marked an explosive turn in a contest that will be important in determining the balance of power in the Virginia General Assembly. The race has attracted large amounts of spending and interest for an off-year legislative race.
Democrats control the Senate by a four-vote margin, and Republicans control the House by the same margin, with four seats currently vacant. The parties are engaged in fierce legislative battles as Gov. Glenn Youngkin, the GOP’s rising national political star, seeks to bolster his conservative agenda through full control of state government.
Gibson said disclosing the videos was “an illegal invasion of my privacy designed to humiliate me and my family.” Gibson’s attorney, Daniel P. Watkins, said the distribution of the videos was a violation Virginia’s revenge porn lawmaking it a crime to “maliciously” distribute or sell nude or sexual images of another person with the intent to “coerce, harass, or intimate.”
“There was a criminal act here, and that was the distribution of revenge porn by a Republican activist,” Watkins told the AP.
Watkins cited a 2021 Virginia Court of Appeals ruling that said it was unlawful for a man to secretly record his girlfriend during a consensual sexual encounter, even if he did not show the video to other people. The court noted that consent to viewing is not the same as consent to recording.
Gibson, 40, a nurse and married mother of two young children, won a Democratic primary in June and is running against Republican businessman David Owen in one of the state’s most competitive districts.
Owen’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Neither did Garren Shipley, a spokesman for Republican House Speaker Todd Gilbert.
A senior Virginia Democrat immediately defended Gibson after the Post reported the videos. “Now we’re going to make this the biggest fundraising day of their campaign,” Sen. L. Louis Lucas said on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.
Gibson and Owen are running against each other in the 57th District, an area that includes suburbs of Richmond in Henrico and Goochland counties. The district elected Youngkin in 2021 by a margin of 51.2% to 48.3%, but in the 2022 midterm congressional elections the split in the district was 50% Democratic and 49.1% Republican.
Gibson said the 2022 U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade was repealed brought them into the race.
Gibson had an account on Chaturbate, a legal website that allows viewers to watch live webcam performances featuring nudity and sexual activity, according to screenshots reviewed by AP. The videos show Gibson and her husband John David Gibson having sex, at times looking into the camera and asking viewers for donations in the form of “tokens” or “tips” to watch a private broadcast.
Chaturbate videos are streamed live on this site and are often archived on other publicly accessible sites, the Post reported. More than a dozen videos posted under Gibson’s Chaturbate username were archived on one of those sites – Recurbate – in September 2022, a month after she announced her candidacy. Two videos were last archived on September 30, 2022. It is unclear when the livestream took place.